New Device Lets Users Send Sounds Using Smartphones

March 22, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. extensive [ik-STEN-siv] (adj.) – large in amount, degree or number
Example:  The computer science graduate has extensive knowledge on creating programs.

2. crowdfunding [kroud FUHND-ing] (n.) – a project’s financing method in which many individuals contribute money, usually through the Internet ExampleCrowdfunding and people who contribute in it help  a lot of app developers turn their ideas into reality.

3. pledge [plej] (v.) – to promise or agree to give money
Example: The businessman pledged $5000 to the school library.

4. whimsical [HWIM-zi-kuh l, WIM-] (adj.) – unusual in an amusing, playful and not serious way
Example: I laughed at my brother’s whimsical text message.

5. bridge the gap [brij th uh gap] (idiom) – to connect two things that have little in common
Example: The non-profit organization hopes to bridge the gap between young people and the elderly through volunteer programs.

Read the text below.

A Paris-based tech company, 23 de Enero, has introduced a new device for mobile gadgets that allows sending of sounds, which makes communication more fun and personal.

TeleSound, the new speaker, connects to a person's smartphone or tablet through Bluetooth [BLOO-tooth] 4.0. The device uses an app with an extensive data bank of emoji icons, each with a corresponding sound. Users can send messages containing these emojis to each other. Upon receiving a message, the speaker will automatically play the sound of the emojis.

The device, however, is not yet available on the market, as the makers are currently raising funds on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. Nonetheless, people can avail of the device by supporting the project. Users who pledge $34 or more can get their own TeleSound after the project has reached its $100,000 goal. 

The makers decided to use Bluetooth 4.0 instead of Wi-Fi [WAHY-fahy] to make the device more affordable. Otherwise, TeleSound would cost more than $100.

However, critics are questioning TeleSound's profitability, saying the device is fun and whimsical but hardly useful.

In response, Olivier Mével, co-founder of 23 de Enero, said that TeleSound is more than just an amusing device. People share hugs, laughs and frowns in real life but today's digital methods of communication limits what people can actually do. According to Mével, TeleSound bridges this gap with very direct and emotional sounds, thereby making people feel more connected to friends and family.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Will you be interested in buying the TeleSound speaker? Why or why not?
·         Do you think devices like TeleSound can really bridge the gap between actual and digital communication?

Discussion B

·         Which is better: communicating face-to-face or over the internet? Why do you say so?
·         Does digital communication strengthen or weaken relationships with friends and family? Please explain your answer.


March 22, 2013